Remembering Basil O’Keefe — Bus driver Extraordinaire

Remembering Basil O’Keefe — Bus driver Extraordinaire

Basil O’Keefe, known by his friends and riders as “the best school bus driver in the world,” has retired after years of driving children to St Michael’s school in Corkery. Basil, one of the area’s most popular drivers, says he “was forced to retire because they said I was too old.” 

“They” in this case is the West Carleton Separate School Board, and while Basil is not questioning the wisdom of the board, he was retested by the ministry of transport this year and had his bus licence renewed. He has had a test yearly to maintain his licence for the last 13 years.

Basil is 78 years old. He began driving buses after his retirement at 65 from the government. His wife Mary started driving a year earlier and they both decided to do the runs to defeat the boredom that had set in. Mary thinks she’ll only drive one more year, she says, because “ I don’t enjoy it like I used to when Basil was driving.” 

The students who rode on Basil’s bus are upset that he no longer gets them to and from– and on the first day of classes this year, organized a petition to have Basil reinstated Mary says “ the kids just loved him.” And Basil says he never had a problem with discipline on his buses, ” I found everything funny with the kids,” he says. ‘I have wiped a lot of notes, dried a lot of tears, and looked up a lot of books. “

’According to an anonymous submission to the Gazette. Basil is famous for never getting stuck or losing his temper, “He was helped in his duties by a vast knowledge of every track and pothole in the Corkery area and by a clear recollection of the foolish antics of local parents and grandparents to the fifth generation.

Basil who drove for Carleton Bus Lines of Antrim, has many fond memories of the children he has transported over the years. He related the tale of a Friday afternoon kindergarten run a few years ago. My run finished at Marathon village and I looked back to see I had one too many kids. 

I asked the link girl where she lived and she said ‘it was on top of a big hill.’ It appears the little girl lived on the Appleton road and normally was driven to school by her mother However, all her friends came to school by bus so she sneaked onto Basil’s bus for a ride. He took her back to St Michael’s to meet her mother but she didn’t want to get off.

How did Basil handle that situation? He smiles and simply says: “I took her home,”

The best summation of Basil’s bus driving career is offered by an anonymous writer: “Basil will be fondly remembered for his driving skill, his kind attention to kiddies with sick tummies or absent mummies and his astonishing ability to see fox, wolves, moose and ostriches where a whole busload of kids could only see junipers. His host of admirers can only regret his absence while wishing him the most enjoyable retirement. 

With files from Ms Ennis, NOV 1985– Almonte Gazette

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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